"Lighting a beacon"
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Jordan Valley Solidarity
I, Daphne Banai, Machsomwatch activist, am glad to light a beacon in honor of the legitimate residents of the Palestinian Jordan Valley, in the name of all these modest and brave people whose sole wish it is to be free in their country and upon their own land, and whose homes my country turns into their prison. It demolishes their houses, arrests their sons, seals their wells and steals their water, handing it over to a handful of settlers who sit upon the ruins of their villages, occupied and destroyed in 1967. Since then Israel has coveted the beautiful, fertile eastern part of the West Bank. All Israeli governments have tried to annex the Palestinian Jordan Valley in order to isolate the West Bank from the outside world. The Jordan Valley is vitally essential to Palestine because it is the bridge to Jordan. Without it, the West Bank will be stifled and sealed like Gaza and entirely dependent on Israel. For this very reason – Israel fights to keep and deepen its grip of the Jordan Valley.
The entire settlement project in the Palestinian Jordan Valley has been geared to this end. Since it is easier to annex a region “cleansed” of its inhabitants, Israel tries to expel the indigenous, legitimate residents through constant harassment – expulsion, land expropriation, house demolitions, denial of water and prevention of free movement.
The harshest checkpoints are not located between the West Bank and Israel. They separate the Palestinian totally non-violent Jordan Valley and the West Bank: gates, deep ditches and dirt piles block children from their school, patients from hospitals and medical care, farmers and their fields and grazing and the possibility to market their produce in the West Bank.
Many have given up in desperation and left. 60,000 others, however, cling to their land. With parched throats and endless hardship they gaze with longing at the bright green plantations of the 8000 “lords of the land” who sit upon their land and exploit its splendor.
Recently the Palestinian residents of the Jordan Valley have been organizing in a popular resistance movement whose mode of struggle is non-violent and is manifested in building without the occupiers’ permission and support of all those struggling to hold on to their land. Their motto – “To exist is to resist”. The soil of the Jordan Valley serves them to form building blocks in the tradition of their forefathers, from which they construct schools, clinics and homes. Laying pipes at night to supply water to an isolated encampment, and especially their spirit and fortitude – these are their weapons.
To the Palestinians of the Jordan Valley and to the Jordan Valley Solidarity movement I wish to dedicate this beacon